Kid Brushing Teeth

5 Tooth Brushing Songs To Get Your Kids Brushing

As we’ve stated on the blog in the past, it’s important to instill good brushing habits in your children at an early age. To do that, you need to make the brushing experience entertaining or engaging, and one way you can do that is by connecting to Youtube or a brushing app and playing a short video.

One reason why these videos are helpful is because they are between a minute and a half and two minutes long, the right length of time you and your children should be brushing for each time you pick up your brush. These videos are also useful because your children can see their favorite characters brushing their teeth or singing a song, and this will make the brushing experience more enjoyable.

But as a parent who probably just stared at your reflection when you were brushing as a child, which videos may be the most engaging or worthwhile for your child? Below, we share five of our favorite toothbrushing videos.

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Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me – Sesame Street

This upbeat song features Elmo singing and dancing along as he helps explain why brushing is important.

Stop Zombie Mouth – Plants Vs. Zombies

If your kids have ever played the Plants vs. Zombies mobile game, they’ll enjoy this two-minute video when they brush.

Brush Your Teeth – Super Simple Songs

Straight and to the point, this song features some friendly monsters who help to demonstrate good brushing techniques.

Brushing My Teeth – Barney

The purple dinosaur is back to help teach kids how to brush their teeth in this video.

Kids Just Love To Brush – Sesame Street

A knock off of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” will be enjoyable for both kids and adults who remember the original.


If your child has a favorite cartoon character, odds are they are in a toothbrushing video, so see what you can find on Youtube to help make the brushing experience more interactive and enjoyable! For more tips and tricks, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Brushing Technique

The Best Tooth Brushing Techniques

For most people, brushing their teeth is a mindless activity that is performed in the morning and before they go to bed. They don’t pay much attention to their brushing technique, and that can actually leave them exposed to dental problems. There’s a technique behind good brushing mechanics, and we’re going to walk you through them in today’s blog.

Know The Angles

For most surfaces, you can best hit their surface by having your brush at a 45-degree angle in relation to the tooth. With that said, sometimes it’s easier to hit the tops of our back teeth by turning the brush so it’s parallel to your tongue.

All Three Surfaces

When mindlessly brushing, you’re more likely to just hit the outer surface of your teeth, but that’s not going to protect them. You want to hit the front, back and tops of every tooth, and try to hit the back sides of the last teeth in the back of your mouth. Just because you can’t see these surfaces when you smile doesn’t mean that you can ignore them when brushing.

Brush Pattern

Use short strokes to effectively clean your teeth surfaces. These short, quick maneuvers will best help to remove plaque and other food particles from the surface of your teeth. When it comes to a side-to-side or circular brushing technique, it doesn’t really matter which technique you use so long as you spend enough time hitting each tooth surface.

Go The Extra Mile

For best results, don’t just brush your teeth. Brushing can’t hit between teeth surfaces very easily, so a lot of people pair brushing with another activity, like flossing or with mouthwash. Try to get in the habit of flossing at least once a day to remove food particles that brushing can’t reach, and consider adding mouthwash to your routine for extra protection.

If you’re following these brushing basics, we’re confident that you will have a healthy and bright smile for years to come. We also recommend pairing your daily dental habits with regular trips to the dentist’s office so they can do some deeper cleaning and take x-rays to look for things you can’t spot with the naked eye. If you’re interested in talking with a dentist about the best ways to protect your teeth, or you want to set up your next dental visit, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

5 Ways To Develop Healthy Brushing Habits in Children

Getting kids to buy into brushing their teeth regularly is one of the best things a parent can do for their child’s teeth. Creating an environment where a child wants to brush their teeth, or at a minimum doesn’t hate doing it, is easier said than done. Try different techniques to see what works best for your kids, because getting them to establish a brushing routine will not only protect their teeth for decades, but it may also lower your dental bill.

Everyone has their own theory for how to best get kids to buy into a healthy dental routine, but we’ve talked with a lot of parents and have a good gauge for what seems to work best. Here are our five industry tips for getting your kids to brush their teeth regularly.

Getting Kids To Brush Their Teeth

Try one or more of these techniques if you’re trying to help your child establish a good brushing routine.

  1. Have Fun – Brushing your teeth doesn’t need to be boring. Turn on some music or have a dance party while you brush. This will help your child associate brushing their teeth with other fun activities, and this will help brushing become routine.
  2. Stick to the Plan – If the kids have had a long day and are clearly overtired, it can be easy to just ship them off to bed without going through the normal bedtime routine. The problem with this is that if skipping brushing happens more than once a week, your child is going to have a tough time developing a habit where brushing their teeth before bed becomes the norm. Same goes for in the morning. Get them out of bed and into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Skipping brushing sessions hurts the formation of a regular routine.
  3. Incorporate Their Interests – If your child has a favorite cartoon character, try to work that character into the brushing routine. See if you can find them on a toothbrush, or see if Youtube has two-minute videos featuring that character your child can watch while they brush their teeth. There are also apps that feature some favorite cartoon characters that can help make brushing more relatable to your child.
  4. Make it a Family Affair – When children are young, they want to be like their parents, so make sure you are setting a good example for your children. Better yet, make time to brush your teeth at the same time as your child so they can see that you also value your smile. They are going to want to be like you, so lead by example.
  5. Avoid Reward/Discipline – Finally, we’ve found that reward or discipline systems aren’t always the best route to pursue. We understand that holding back ice cream until your child eats their vegetables may work well at the dinner table, but punishing bad brushing behaviors doesn’t help to foster a healthy attitude about brushing. They are going to view brushing as a means to an end, not as a routine activity that needs to be performed. We want children to want to brush their teeth, not children who brush just to get it over with and avoid punishment. To each their own, but we’ve found that this may not be the best strategy.

For more tips, or for questions about your child’s dental health, reach out to Smiles for Life Dental today.

Pregnant Teeth

5 Tips For Caring For Your Teeth When You’re Pregnant

When you’re pregnant, you want to do everything in your power to live a healthy lifestyle so that your baby can have a healthy development in the womb. You take care of yourself by exercising and eating right, but you also need to take good care of your dental health during this time. If you ignore your teeth, not only will your teeth suffer, but it can actually lead to health issues that could affect your baby.

To make sure your teeth and gums are cared for during your pregnancy, we’ve compiled a list of the top five things you need to do for your teeth while you’re pregnant. If you follow the tips on this list, you’ll be doing right by you and your unborn child.

How To Care For Your Teeth When Pregnant

Here are five things you should be doing on a regular basis if you are pregnant.

  1. Brushing Twice A Day – Brushing twice a day helps to protect our teeth from cavity-causing bacteria. Pregnancy hormones can leave you an increased risk for gum disease or tooth decay, so it’s especially important that you take the time at least twice a day to protect your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Regular Dental Visits – As we’ve talked about on the blog in the past, it is perfectly safe to go to the dentist if you’re pregnant. Even if you need dental x-rays or an anesthetic, it’s safe as long as your let the dentist know about your condition. So whether you’re due for a cleaning or you think you might have a cavity, keep going to the dentist as you normally would despite the fact that you’re pregnant.
  3. Balanced Diet – A healthy diet is important for your growing child, but it also helps to ward off problems in your mouth. As we mentioned above, pregnancy hormones can leave you more susceptible to dental problems, so don’t add to the problem by over-consuming sugar-packed products that facilitate bacteria growth and tooth decay. Eat a range of vitamins and minerals, and be sure that your drink of choice is water.
  4. Floss – Pregnancy-related gum disease is an issue for many others, and one way to prevent against it is to ensure you remove plaque and other particles between your teeth with floss. You may have a little bleeding when flossing, but that should slow down and stop as you begin to floss more regularly. Make a nightly habit of flossing to help protect against pregnancy-related gum disease.
  5. The Aftermath of Morning Sickness – Finally, if you’re suffering from morning sickness that is causing you to vomit, care for your teeth after an episode. Brush your teeth after you vomit, and consider drinking a mixture of water and a teaspoon of baking soda, as it can help prevent tooth damage that could be caused by stomach acid.

For more dental tips whether or not you’re pregnant, reach out to Smiles for Life Dental today.

Mouth Abscess

Treating Abscesses Of The Mouth

A dental abscess involves an infection of an area of your mouth, and oftentimes they develop due to poor dental hygiene or a person’s reluctance to get dental care in a timely matter. They can develop in a number of different areas, including your teeth, gums, mouth, jaw or throat, and they can lead to serious problems if left untreated.

Treating an abscess or a dental infection can be difficult because it involves a change in daily habits that led to the condition in the first place. However, by placing a renewed focus on the health of your teeth and connecting with a professional, we’re confident you can successfully treat the condition. Here’s a closer look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options for dental abscesses.

Causes and Symptoms of Dental Abscesses

As we mentioned above, the causes of dental abscesses are often linked to a lack of dental care. When bacteria is allowed to grow unimpeded in the mouth, teeth or gums, an abscess or infection can set in. This will make the area more painful until the abscess either drains or ruptures. When it develops in the throat, it can even cause breathing difficulties.

Causes of dental abscesses are linked to poor oral health, including activities like irregular brushing, not getting regular dental checkups, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a poor diet and taking certain medications. Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the mouth or face
  • Discharge upon rupture
  • Oral tenderness
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

If an infection has set in, you may also notice symptoms like vomiting, fever, chills or diarrhea.

Diagnosing and Treating Dental Abscesses

Dental abscesses have better outcomes the sooner they are treated, so if you believe you’re dealing with the development of an abscess, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with an infection, head to a medical facility for an evaluation.

Diagnosing an abscess is pretty simple. The dentist will conduct a physical exam to look for the presence of an abscess, or they may order an x-ray to spot their formation if they are developing within or underneath a tooth.

Once diagnosed, your doctor will talk you through a treatment plan. Treatment may involve opening the abscess to let it drain through a couple of different methods based on their location. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to fight off an infection, and they may need to perform a root canal if you’re dealing with an infected tooth. Abscesses can typically be treated rather easily by draining the abscess and removing an infected tooth. That said, prevention is always preferred to treatment, so be sure you are brushing and flossing on a regular basis, and you’re seeing your dentist every six months to spot the warning signs of an issue.

For more information about dental abscesses, or to talk to a dentist about something going on in your mouth, contact Dr. Brooks today.

Dentist When Pregnant

Can You Go To The Dentist When You’re Pregnant?

You’re going to have plenty of visits to the doctor throughout the course of your pregnancy, but is that the only specialist you should be seeing? During pregnancy, many mothers are so focused on the health of their growing baby that they sometimes put their own self-care on the back burner, and one of those areas that can be easily overlooked is going to the dentist.

But is it safe to go to the dentist when you’re pregnant, or is that something you should put off until your maternity leave? We explain why it’s perfectly safe to go to the dentist if you’re pregnant in today’s blog.

Pregnancy and the Dentist

Regular dental cleanings are very important, but they take on a whole new importance during pregnancy. That’s because the hormone changes in your body can leave you at a greater risk for certain dental conditions, like pregnancy-related gingivitis or tooth decay. Hormone changes in your body can lead to an increased risk of gum inflammation, which can lead to bleeding, swelling or tenderness. If this is ignored, it can actually lead to a more serious form of gum disease, so it’s important to maintain your teeth and visit a dentist at least once during your pregnancy.

Also, many people find it helpful to go to the dentist while they are pregnant in case they have some work that needs to get done. If you need a filling replaced or a cavity treated, it’s easier to do it when you’re pregnant than to try and schedule it around a newborn’s nap or after a feeding. You’re going to have plenty of duties when that baby comes, so take care of your teeth while they are still in the womb.

Tell Your Dentist You’re Pregnant

If you think you might be or know that you’re pregnant, you’re going to want to bring this up to your dentist. For starters, this will be helpful if you need dental x-rays. It is completely safe to have dental x-rays taken during your pregnancy, but you hygienist will take extra precautions by putting a leaded apron over your neck, chest and stomach to prevent radiation from being exposed to your baby or your thyroid gland.

It’s also important to let your dentist know if you’re pregnant if you need a local anesthetic for a procedure. Studies have shown that numbing medications are preferectly safe for you and your unborn baby, but your dentist will still want to know about your condition so they can avoid irritating areas of your mouth that are prone to inflammation due to pregnancy hormones.

Finally, telling your dentist about your pregnancy will help them understand how medications are affecting your mouth and which medications would work well with the pills you’re currently taking. For example, if a medication is causing dry mouth, your dentist may recommend switching to a different medication. Also, if your dentist wants to write you a prescription, it’s important that they know about any other medications you are taking so that they don’t prescribe something that doesn’t mix well with your current medications.

Going to the dentist while you’re pregnant is not only safe, but it is recommended for your health and the health of your unborn baby, as dental problems in the mother can have an impact on their development. Protect your teeth and protect your child by seeing the dentist at least once during your pregnancy, and be sure that you’re brushing and flossing on a daily basis when you’re caring for your teeth at home.

Thanksgiving Teeth

How Certain Thanksgiving Foods Affect Your Teeth

Thanksgiving is known for heaping helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and while all those foods can have an effect on your waistline, they can also negatively impact your teeth. We’re not saying you need to avoid those foods this Thanksgiving, but we want you to be aware of how some common Thanksgiving foods can affect your teeth so that you can keep your teeth healthy for years to come.

Thanksgiving Foods – The Good

This isn’t going to be an all-out bash on Thanksgiving foods, because they’re not all bad. Here’s a look at some of the options you may want to grab a second helping of:

  • Turkey – Packed with protein, the main dish is one you’ll want to put on your plate, as this protein can help keep teeth strong. You’ll also want to pack some floss, because turkey tends to get stuck between our teeth, and leaving it there for prolonged periods can lead to bacteria development.
  • Green Bean Casserole – Green beans are a healthy option, and while they lose some of their healthiness when covered in creamed soups and french onion strings, they provide some necessary vitamins and nutrients that support your teeth.
  • Mac and Cheese – Sometimes present at the Thanksgiving table, mac and cheese can provide some calcium and Vitamin D, which both help your teeth stay strong.

Thanksgiving Foods – The Bad

These aren’t terrible options, but you may want to limit yourselves to one helping:

  • Yams – Yams are packed with Vitamin A and C, which help to keep your gums healthy. However, they are also starchy and when candied, involve marshmallows, which is a recipe for tooth decay.
  • Mashed Potatoes – A surprising source of Vitamin C and potassium, which work to keep your gums healthy and increase bone mineral density, potatoes aren’t all bad. Once covered in gravy, this starchy food becomes a cavity-causing monstrosity.

Thanksgiving Foods – The Ugly

  • Cranberry Sauce – It’s not terrible if eaten with a meal, as other foods can help keep it from sticking to your teeth and providing a sugary surface where bacteria can thrive. However, it’s a sugary, sticky food and the seeds can get stuck between your teeth, all which can cause problems for your teeth health.
  • Pumpkin Pie – There’s plenty of cavity-causing sugar in pumpkin pie, and that only increases when topped with whipped cream. Eat this pie with a meal and with water to help wash the sugar off your teeth surfaces.

Have a wonderful and hopefully somewhat healthy Thanksgiving!

Caregiver Dental Care

A Caregiver’s Guide To Dental Care

There are more than 40 million adult caregivers in the United States today, and one of the many aspects they provide for older seniors is dental care. Basic needs like food, clothing and hygiene are often the main focuses of providing care for the elderly, but we can’t overlook dental health. Today, we’re going to share some tips for caregivers for ensuring the senior in their life gets the dental care they deserve.

Providing Dental Care For Seniors

Dental hygiene can go a long way in providing a sense of independence and self-esteem in senior citizens, and the opposite can be said of a poorly maintained mouth. Whether you’re brushing their teeth for them, making sure they brush their teeth or helping them with their denture care, what you’re doing is important and necessary to their dental and overall health. Here’s a look at some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when caring for someone who may not be able to provide themselves with the best dental care:

  • Regular brushing is still very important, so help ensure they brush in the morning and before bed.
  • Get them to floss. Once a day is fine, oftentimes after the last meal of the day. This will remove food particles that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Without regular denture cleanings, their mouth can be at an increased risk for irritation, inflammation and infection. Have them walk you through their denture cleaning protocol.
  • Alcohol-free mouthwashes are great cleaning options, especially if your senior is dealing with dry mouth.
  • Limit sugary snacks and sugars, as their teeth and gums are more prone to breakdown and degeneration as they get older.
  • Ensure they both make and keep dental appointments. If they no longer drive, help arrange transportation for them.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of a bigger problem, like mouth sores, bleeding or broken teeth. If you notice any issues, set up an appointment with their dentist as soon as possible.
  • When taking care of a senior patient’s dental needs an electric brush like a sonicare would help greatly.  Not only does it help when brushing their own teeth since many have dexterity issues and it is easier to hold, but it also helps caregivers as well and has a great timer as a reminder as to how long someone is brushing.

It’s not easy to care for someone else’s mouth, but by following these tips, you’ll be ensuring the senior in your life has a good chance at having great dental health. For more information, or if you have questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Preventing Cavities

4 Diet Tips To Prevent Against Cavities

Cavities develop when we allow plaque and bacteria to damage the surface of our teeth, and one way in which we can either set up or prevent against providing a good environment for tooth decay to occur is through our diet. What we eat and drink plays a big role in whether or not cavity-causing bacteria are allowed to prosper in our mouth.

Practicing good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing daily can go a long way in preventing against cavities, but so too can a healthy diet. Today, we share four tips for ensuring that the diet we eat isn’t putting us at risk for cavity development.

Make Water Your Drink of Choice

Water is a great choice because not only does it avoid jeopardizing your teeth like some other drinks, it actually works to strengthen them. Water contains fluoride, which helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Other drinks, like sodas, juices, coffee or alcohol can all cause problems for your teeth. Sugas from juices and sugars can create a perfect environment for cavity-causing bacteria, coffee can stain teeth, and alcohol can negatively affect your gum health. Stick with water as your main liquid of choice, and you’ll reduce your cavity risk.

Dairy, Veggies and Fruit are Great Options

You have to be a little careful about the acidity and natural sugars in some fruits, but these food groups all provide essential vitamins and minerals that can strengthen your teeth and help prevent cavities. Calcium and potassium help to improve bone mineral density, which is necessary for strong and healthy teeth. Make these foods groups the main focus of your meal.

Avoid Sticky Foods

Foods like gummies, raisins and other dried fruits are not only packed with artificial or natural sugars, but they also have a tendency to stick to your teeth. The longer they remain on the tooth surface, the more damage they can do in terms of causing cavities. If you’re going to eat these foods, eat them in combination with other foods, as that will help to naturally wipe them off your teeth surfaces. Also consider brushing your teeth after eating these foods.

Avoid Constant Snacking

Aside from potentially affecting your waistline, regular snacking means that we’re constantly feeding the cavity-causing germs in our mouth. Kids that have the most cavities are usually the ones snacking throughout the day, and while it’s important to feed your kid when they are hungry, more infrequent, larger meals may do more for their oral health than a lot of smaller meals throughout the day.

Tongue Oral Health

What Your Tongue Says About Your Overall Health

Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about your overall health by looking at your tongue. It can give signs of an infection, it can demonstrate your blood vessel health, and it can suggest there’s an issue with your nervous system, among other things. Below, we share some things you can tell about your mouth health and your overall health by looking at your tongue.

White Patches

White patches could suggest that you’re dealing with a current infection or the aftermath of an infection. There’s also the possibility of an immune system problem, so you’ll want to let your dentist know about any white patches you notice on your tongue.

Black Tongue

While you might assume that a black tongue could suggest tissue death, oftentimes it is a harmless reaction to an ingredient in some antacids. If you notice discoloration and you’re not taking medications or antacids, contact your doctor or dentist.

Smooth Red Tongue

A smooth, red and sometimes painful tongue can be the sign of a Vitamin B deficiency, or it could be caused by a more rare illness that affects the blood vessels in your body.

A Burning Sensation

If your tongue feels like it’s been burnt, but you haven’t been scalded by hot coffee, it could be a sign of a nerve issue. It can also be a complication of an infection or conditions like dry mouth or diabetes.

Bumps

Small, painful bumps can sometimes be caused by simple tongue irritation, or they can suggest you’re dealing with a virus. If they don’t heal on their own within a couple days, have them examined by a dentist or doctor.

Enlarged Tongue

If it feels like your tongue is too big compared to the rest of your mouth, you probably have an underlying issue, like hypothyroidism, allergies or an infection.

Grooves or Cracks

Grooves in your tongue can be a sign of aging, but they have also been linked to psoriasis or an immune disorder. It’s usually not that serious, but it’s still worth bringing up at your next appointment.

Growths

If you have a growth or development on your tongue that doesn’t go away in a couple of days, have it looked at by a specialist, because there’s a chance that it could be cancerous.

These are just a few of the ways our tongue can speak to our overall health. If you have a question about what your tongue is saying about your health, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.